December 23, 2021


Dear Hastings Families & Staff,


We made it! Safely stepping onto the Isle of Holiday Recess today, we should thank each other, and especially our tireless, ever-dedicated staff, for making this several-month journey healthy and fulfilling. Repeat a good thing, I am told: Hastings staff, thank you, thank you!


Today’s update highlights a couple of good news items. I then swing into reminders for how we will be managing COVID-19 during and after the Holiday Recess.  


Refreshing Air & Festive Mood 


The air was brisk this morning as I greeted students and staff at Hillside.  Warmth arrived quickly with the smiles, pajama-day attire, and Holiday outfits of our budding scholars. Several students stopped to breathlessly tell me about family due to visit, while others sped by announcing the books I had shared during guest reading. Capping the festive mood was a dad on a bike with children, pedaling through the drop-off circle to the sounds of Jose Feliciano’s Feliz Navidad


Gotta Share Moments


All should hear two moments I shared this week with the Leadership Team and the Board of Education, both in texts entitled, “Gotta Share a Moment.”  


Gotta Share a Moment — 12.21.21


Just watched Boys V Hoops beat Yorktown: Final: 55 v 34, good guys!


Not just about winning, but the chance for the team to play, and play well, and watching how pumped they were after an exceptional 4th quarter, was special.


Share the glow!

Gotta Share a Moment — 12.23.21 


Watched Girls V Hoops win with style over Pleasantville last night, racking up 61 points to 30-something for the opponents. Our players were pumped.


We won both the basketball and character contest. Our coaches modeled that great (calm) coaching is great teaching. Well done, Coach Patrick.


Share the glow!


Look for more of these quick shares during 2022. 


A Review of COVID-19 Preparations


All families and staff hopefully reviewed yesterday’s update on how we will be managing COVID-19 during the Holiday Recess and upon our return to school on January 3. I repeat the same information here so that we are clear on procedures and next steps.


By now, everyone should know that we intend to continue in-person learning after the Holiday Recess. However, we must be cognizant of two potential reasons for a shift to temporary remote mode:

  1. Inability to safely open a building due to a high rate of positive cases of COVID-19 among staff. (This has begun to occur in the region.)
  2. Guidance from the NYSDOH or WCDOH that the mitigation of COVID-19 requires remote learning. (This is not expected, but these authorities are the ultimate arbiter on ways to mitigate COVID-19.)

Reporting Requirements for COVID-19 During Holiday Recess:


During the Holiday Recess, Hastings staff and students are required to report any confirmed positive cases. Use this Holiday Reporting Form to report any COVID-related concerns. Please complete one form for each individual affected.


Starting today at 3:30 p.m., phone messages and emails sent to school nurses will not be reviewed prior to January 3. All staff and families (HES, FMS and HHS) should email copies of positive test results to the school health office (Tricia Chibbaro,; Joanne Cipollina, 

Preparing for Return to School on January 3:


While we intend to be in-person on January 3, we must be prepared for the possibility that we will be in a temporary remote mode immediately after Holiday Recess. Districts across the region are sending similar communications to their staff and families. 


Steps to Be Prepared for Temporary Remote Mode


  1. Students should bring home their classroom materials today (Thursday, 12.23.21). If some students are not able to do so and we are in remote mode immediately after Holiday Recess, we will provide an opportunity for materials to be picked up.
  2. Students should bring their Chromebooks home today (Thursday, 12.23.21). Some students have been using their own devices. We have a list of those students needing a device based on a parent survey. As with classroom materials, we will provide an opportunity after Holiday Recess for devices to be picked up from school.
  3. If we are in a temporary remote mode, teachers will be teaching from their classrooms, unless they are quarantined or we receive a directive to the contrary from the WCDOH. This is for consistency with access to instructional materials and bandwidth. If a teacher is in quarantine, they may teach from home. (Teachers will want to bring home their teaching materials as a precaution.)


We will confirm our schooling plans for January 3 no later than the afternoon of January 2.  


Final Word


I wish each and every family–of students and staff–a joyful Holiday Recess.  Find and embrace your “gotta share moments.”  


I look forward to greeting everyone back to school in the New Year.  


Be well.

William S. McKersie, Ph.D. 

Superintendent of Schools